Sleep Out for a Home for Art!

Join Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition and Denver Homeless Out Loud by standing and sleeping along side Art Perreault to “prove” he is homeless and demand he be given his rightful housing.

HUD and the VA must stop this senseless re-defining of homelessness which excludes people like Art who are homeless, squatting illegally in a foreclosed home while seeking safer housing, from getting the help and housing they need.

Monday 8/25, 8pm

at 3030 Downing st

Foreclosed On Denver Veteran Finds Foes And Friends In Search For Help From VA

 

 

By Darren O’Connor

August 21, 2014

Denver, CO—Art Perreault, like too many Veterans of the modern era, is homeless.  He served his country, worked hard his entire life, and bought into the American dream, only to find himself on the wrong end of a home modification loan.  Health issues ensued, Art’s wife left him, and he was left alone to wage battle to keep the home he had known since 2006.  Despite a valiant effort, Art eventually lost his home.

 

Art’s story is not entirely unique.  While the number of Veterans identifying as homeless in the Denver metro has decreased over the last 4 years, Veterans still make up an inordinate amount (>13%) of those living on the street.  Therefore, it is significant that President Obama has issued an Executive Directive to end Veteran homelessness, by December 31, 2015.

 

The directive calls for the Veteran Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) voucher program to serve as the primary tool to eradicate homelessness.  Similar to the HUD Section 8 program, the VASH voucher provides for subsidized rent and supportive services, through case management.

 

After losing his home, Mr. Perreault turned to the Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition (CFRC), an all-volunteer group, for assistance. The CFRC connected with Leanne Wheeler, the Colorado Pathways Home Veteran Advisory Group Co-Chair, herself a former homeless Veteran, to assist Art in accessing his Veteran benefits; to include a VASH voucher.

 

Ms. Wheeler referred Art to the VA Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC), where a case manager was assigned and his immediate medical needs were attended to.  However, despite his heart condition, diabetes, requirement for oxygen, multiple strokes, a blood clot in his foot, and his illegally squatting in his former residence, Art was denied VASH voucher eligibility.

 

(It should be noted that Mr. Perreault was issued a Section 8 voucher two years ago, which he hoped to use to stay in his home.  The mortgage lender – Chase – rejected that proposed arrangement.)

 

Ms. Wheeler personally accompanied Art to the Denver VA Hospital Homeless Prevention Program, and ultimately connected with the Deputy Director, Michelle Lapidow (a colleague on the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative Board of Directors), who denied Art’s eligibility.

 

Mr. Perrault was contacted the same evening, by a VA employee, who refused to identify herself.  She did, however, advise Art that his denial of eligibility was not based on a true assessment of his need (he was, indeed, eligible), but on the case manager’s perceived slight by Ms. Wheeler making inquiry about his progress higher in the leadership echelon.

 

The Veterans Administration already faces indictment along this line: retribution, cover up and the like.  In the recent past, these activities have led to the untimely death of Veterans.

 

This cannot be Art Perreault’s fate.

 

And if the CFRC and Ms. Wheeler have their way, it will not be the fate of Art Perreault, or any Veteran experiencing homelessness, in Colorado.

 

Nonprofit programs require Art to literally spend the night on the street (illegal per Denver’s Camping Ban ordinance), or spend one night in a shelter, where he would likely not find a bed, before he is considered homeless.  Therefore, the CFRC, Ms. Wheeler, and other supporters will spend that night on the street with Art, in solidarity.

 

In doing so,  Art’s supporters wish to highlight the subjectivity and disparity in the VASH voucher eligibility determination, while calling attention to how this process shows deference to one illegal act (sleeping on the street) over another (squatting illegally in a house). The law is one thing, but there is also the fact that there are currently 200 VASH vouchers in Colorado that have not been issued and that are at risk of being lost.

 

We ask you, the media, to join us on August 25, 2014, at 2200L, directly across the street from the CRRC, at 3030 Downing Street (Denver), to cover this event.  It is our intention to escort Art Perreault to the CRRC, at the open of business on August 262014, to sign the sworn affidavit required of him, to finally be considered homeless.

 

Contact

Darren O’Connor

Colorado Foreclosure Resistance Coalition

Cell: (720)961-3869

ForeclosureResistance@gmail.com

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